Mind matters in Bollywood

The fact that mainstream movies have taken up issues like mental health and child sex abuse will help our society

Dr Sagar Mundada

Over the last 1 month, 2 Bollywood films – Dear Zindagi and Kahaani2 have dealt into a subject – Mental Health – that has generally not been focussed in Indian cinema. Dear Zindagi, has done a brilliant job of portraying and busting myths regarding mental health problems.

Even today, most of our population feels that a psychiatrist is required only for patients who hit others, have no control over themselves or in the lay man terms have gone “mad”.  This film subtly talks of “dimaag ka doctor” concept and de-stigmatises the view about mental health. It also shows that you do not necessarily need to have a mental illness for seeking professional help.

The protagonist in the film, Alia Bhatt has many pent up issues from the past and these internal conflicts keep wreaking havoc with her present. Many a times, getting those conflicts to surface, dealing with them maturely helps one relieve many issues.

Dear Zindagi Pic courtesy: Dailyhunt

The film portrays how professional help can really facilitate this process and get you more in sync with what you actually desire. It depicts how parental attitude and pressure has long lasting imprints at the subconscious level on any kid and venting it out in an appropriate manner can do wonders.

Kahaani 2 deals with the issue of child sex abuse in a very realistic and accurate manner. These acts have long lasting effects on the psyche of a child. They are more vulnerable to develop depression, anxiety issues, self-confidence development problems, hatred towards opposite sex in life. They themselves may turn to such activities and abuse in future.

A still from Kahaani 2 Pic courtesy: Filmibeat

During childhood itself, their social interaction will decrease and scholastic performance suffers. Although a very common thing in our society, many children don’t report the same because generally it is someone in the family doing it or even if reported, parents turn a blind eye to same. This can lead to life long scars on the mind.

Therefore, awareness about child sex abuse, good touch and bad touch, ways to identify abuse and seek help at earliest must be taught to both parents and students.

The fact that main stream movies have taken up this issues will help the society a lot. In our culture where many people idolise celebrities, a positive and open approach to mental health problems from people who are adored by millions will make a big difference in the common man’s attitude.

People will become more open about their psychological problems and the taboo around psychiatric problems will decrease. Its importance can be gauged by the fact that almost 10 to 15 per cent Indians suffer from depression in their lifetimes. If evaluated early and given treatment, it can greatly help in saving their valuable time and energy and maximising their human resource.

World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that depression will be the illness causing no1 morbidity in the world by 2020. If India braces up to this challenge by increased awareness and intervention especially by actors whose voice reaches millions, it will be a huge step.

A recent article in the lancet, world’s well known medical journal, sites that only 1 out of 10 Indians has access to mental health professionals. One of the prime reasons is the excess taboo associated with it that people wait till something drastic happens before realising the problem.

With people like Deepika Padukone coming out in open about how she suffered from depression and starting a foundation to deal with same and Bollywood covering such sensitive issues, it surely is a positive sign for ensuring that  everybody in society gets mental health help when and as, required without any restrictions or fear.

The author is a Psychiatrist at KEM Hospital in Parel